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NEWS | Dec. 19, 2012

Appropriate material in the workplace

By Master Sgt. Walker Julius 373rd TRS Det 5 first sergeant

I remember many years ago as a young Airman in the maintenance career field, I would come to work and during my break time I would read some of the "literature" left lying around the work area.

I would read Maxim or Fitness and Health Magazines and nobody said a thing about it. I was oblivious that magazines like this could be harassing to some members of our work area. I mean, everyone seemed cool with it. Or were they merely tolerating it to fit in and not make waves?

I had a very narrow view of the effect having material like this in the workplace could hold. After years of training and being able to take myself outside of my own personal viewpoint, I understand material like this can only serve to drive a wedge between what brings all of us together as an Air Force. We want everyone, regardless of their background, genetic makeup, etc., to feel like they are a valuable part of the Air Force family. When we tolerate potentially offensive material in the workplace, we tolerate alienating vital members of our team. We tolerate suppressing those members that could make a great contribution to the mission.

My challenge to you is to find those things that may be in your workplace and critically think if there is value added by having that particular item in your workplace. Just because a particular magazine is sold at the Exchange or Express, does not mean it can be brought back to share with everyone at work.

Does music with explicit lyrics need to be played so anyone can walk by and hear it? Does that signed cheerleader poster really have a place in your cubical? Do you really need to tell that joke or talk about that particular subject matter?

Remember our core values. Bringing something back to the workplace just to show to my buddies when I know it is wrong, is that integrity first? When I am only thinking about my own particular taste in music, is listening to explicit music the right thing to do? By not taking others into account, is that really service before self? By having offensive material lying around the work area, is that exhibiting excellence in all we do? It is time to step back and start considering the team as a whole.

During these challenging times, we need the full contribution of each of our team members. We can achieve everyone's full potential if we serve to unite us under our common goals. Offensive material will only divide us and hamper our ability to accomplish the mission effectively.